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The work conducted by Sewall on the GIS database will be a critical part of properly siting deepwater offshore wind farms in the Gulf of Maine, to minimize environmental impact, minimize interference with other users of the Gulf of Maine, and maximize power output.
Dr. Habib Dagher, Director
AEWC Advanced Structures and Composites Center
University of Maine



Gulf of Maine Offshore Wind Energy GIS
The University of Maine

The instability of petroleum fuel markets has led to extreme fluctuations in electrical, gasoline and home heating costs, creating an economically unsustainable future for citizens and consumers. In Maine, state agencies, educational institutions, and key business firms are meeting the challenge through collaboration on renewable energy initiatives, including the development of wind power. The State, which leads New England in land-based wind farm construction, is now evaluating the tremendous promise the Gulf of Maine (GoM) holds for offshore wind energy production. The GoM exhibits commercial-scale (NREL Class 4 or better) across nearly its full extent from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia. By University of Maine estimates, offshore wind power production potential in the GoM far exceeds the annual electricity demand in the State, representing a huge, untapped resource.

Sewall, working in partnership with the University of Maine through the Offshore Wind Development Initiative, is now bringing the power of geospatial technology to the study of ocean renewable energy and wind power production potential in the GoM. This technology--the Offshore Wind Energy GIS (OWEGIS)--is an innovative ecospatial information system that is being used to identify areas for offshore wind farm development and to rank their potential according to environmental, cultural, economic, and commercial impacts.

OWEGIS comprises over 400 layers of coastal- and marine-related data integrated in an ESRI ArcGIS-based data management system designed to collect, analyze, and display critical environmental resource information. The data, including real-time meterological and oceanographic data derived from such sources as Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System (GoMOOS), are now supporting the siting and permitting of a deepwater wind energy testbed for deploying, monitoring, and evaluating scaled wind turbines on floating platforms in the Gulf.

With OWEGIS, stakeholders are able to:

  • Organize, standardize, and display a wide range of information (environmental, cultural, economic, commercial) from diverse geospatial and temporal sources, combining these data in new ways to model cumulative impacts of ocean renewable energy development on marine ecosystems
  • Assess cumulative impacts in an intuitive, interactive and visual manner that facilitates siting decisions and adds transparency to the permitting process




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